Yaya Toure made his 300th appearance for Manchester City in their Carabao Cup round-of-32 tie against West Bromwich Albion but it was two-goal hero Leroy Sane who stole the show as the Citizens edged the Baggies 2-1 to progress in the domestic competition.
The German winger, who has struggled for playing-time this season, got City off to a perfect start, finishing a rebound in the 3rd minute but the hosts were undeterred and tried their best to unsettle the Premier League leaders.
Gabriel Jesus was leading the line for the Sky Blues with Sergio Aguero rested but it was Ilkay Gundogan’s return to action that gave the visiting support hope that the German midfielder had put his injury nightmare behind him.
Gundogan’s appearance proved to be a false dawn, as the 26-year-old went down in the second-half clutching his knee and had to be replaced by Kyle Walker on the hour-mark.
City had been dominant in the first-half, with Elaquim Mangala and Raheem Sterling forcing Ben Foster into a series of superb saves but Tony Pulis’s men stood firm and the the visitors went into the tunnel at half-time with a slender lead.
The second-half began with the visitors in the ascendancy and Sterling once again came close to doubling their lead when he cut in from the left but Foster denied him to keep the hosts in contention.
West Brom, however, wrested the initiative from City with a laudable display of attacking football and should have equalised when Hal Robson-Kanu set up James Morrison but the Scottish midfielder’s toe-poke flashed wide of Claudio Bravo’s goal.
It was left to Claudio Yacob to find the equaliser in the 72nd minute via a header after Kieran Gibbs’ flick off a corner found him unmarked inside the six-yard box.
With less than 20 minutes remaining, City were keen to avoid a upset and Sane would strike home a sensation winner just five minutes later.
Claudio Bravo made a fine save to deny the Baggies from taking the lead and Walker’s cleared the ball straight to Sane. The winger laid it off for Bernardo Silva and set off for the goal and as the Portuguese midfielder played it back to him in the West Brom half, Sane had only one thing on his mind.
Cuting in from the right onto his favourited left foot, Sane’s let fly a shot that arrowed into the top-corner and for once, Foster was well beaten.
Either side of the goal, Hal Robson Kanu had been guilty of a few shocking misses but it was his attempt in the 94th minute, which hit the post, that really summed up his poor night.
Had the Welshman put away a single chance, the result may well have been different but City managed to eke out the win and will seek to keep their winning streak intact when they host bottom-ranked Crystal Palace on Saturday night.
West Brom have no respite and will have to pick themselves up for they visit a rejuvenated Arsenal side on Monday night, a game that is unlikely to bring much reward unless they really take the game to the Gunners.